SEPTEMBER 23, 1906 – There is a lot of action along the St. Paul Road these days, known in these parts as Chicago, Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railway. They're pushing on west to Seattle and I'm helping them. Growing tired of an indoor job I used my savings to buy a team of horses and a grading outfit.
The section of line I'm working on is in Eastern Montana, between Forsyth to the first crossing of the Musselshell River, unsettled country through which all supplies have to be hauled from Forsyth.
We've had a lot of trouble getting sufficient oats and hay for our teams and water is unusually scarce. All the grading has to be done in gumbo soil which at best is a tiresome day's work.
We've been told that crews working east of us in South Dakota already have spanned the Missouri River west of Aberdeen with a huge steel truss bridge. A division terminal has been set up on the east bank of the river and named Mobridge.
When this section of line is completed, I plan to sell my team and equipment to the highest bidder and move on west. With my earnings from this job I think I'll be able to go in business for myself in Seattle. I first had thought of San Francisco as a permanent location but everything still is in turmoil there as the result of the earthquake and fire last April. I am sure my wife and two sons would find Seattle more to their liking for the present at least.
The Puget Sound Line still has a rugged job ahead. Before reaching Seattle no less than five mountain ranges must be spanned – the Belt Mountains, the main range of the Rockies, the Bitter Roots, the Saddle Mountains and the Cascades.
MARCH 15, 1907 – My wife is delighted with Seattle and thank heaven has stopped talking about the comforts of Aberdeen. I, too, am quite content, for the small business I started only a few months ago is prospering. The city, built on seven hills, has many steep descents and ascents and the streets fall away always to the waterfront.
Seattle is unusual in many ways but the method used to extend the business district is quite unique. Sluicing operations used in Alaskan mining to remove hills are being employed and workman already have washed away the Jackson Street and Dearborn Street hills. The earth has been used to fill in more than 1,000 acres of tideflats which now are available for factory sites.
Letters from my father at St. Paul indicate that it shouldn't be too long now, before the Puget Sound extension of the St. Paul will reach here.
SEPTEMBER 3, 1908 – The newspapers of the past few days reported that the St. Paul Road has opened up its line from Mobridge on to Butte, Montana, a distance of 800 miles, and in so doing swallowed up the famous old Jawbone Railroad.
I heard a lot of yarns about the Jawbone when I was helping build the St. Paul line in Montana. It was laid out in 1898 by Richard A. Harlow and the men who worked on the line got a lot of "jawbone" instead of pay, so the story goes. "As long as they fed us and the horses," one of the Jawbone crew told me, "they said we didn't need any money; we couldn't spend it anyway."
AUGUST 15, 1909 – Today we have another link with the East. The Puget Sound extension has established service over the entire length of the new line from Mobridge to Seattle and Tacoma.
All things considered, this achievement is an engineering and construction miracle. It was all accomplished in less than three years, for work on the project was not started until September, 1906.
OCTOBER 7, 1909 – I was at the waterfront a few days ago when the St. Paul Road operated its first sea-train on Puget Sound, barges loaded with freight cars which are towed by tug to the Ballard district to serve the lumber and shingle mills.
Once the barges reach Ballard, the cars are coupled to a yard engine and pulled across a landing apron and soon they're ready to roll into the interior for loading.
This is another indication of ingenuity on the part of the St. Paul management, for without the sea trains the company would have been cut off from important lumber areas.